Notre Dame bounces back
Henry Hilliard | Tuesday, February 18, 2014
At the ITA National Indoor Championships last weekend, the No. 16 Irish bested No. 9 Mississippi State 4-1 on Saturday and No. 12 Florida 4-0 on Sunday after dropping their first match to defending national champion No. 1 Virginia on Friday 4-2.
“I think we played really well in all three matches,” Irish coach Ryan Sachire said. “We put ourselves in a position to beat the defending national champion on Friday, and even though we lost a competitive match, the guys still responded by beating two very talented SEC teams to close out the weekend.”
Heading into the weekend, Notre Dame focused on improving its doubles play, which had proven inconsistent in recent matches. That focus paid off as the team took two out of three doubles points in their matches.
Against the top-ranked Cavaliers (6-1, 1-0 ACC), the duos of senior Billy Pecor and sophomore Josh Hagar as well as senior Greg Andrews and sophomore Alex Lawson claimed victories in the second and first doubles slots with scores of 6-4 and 6-5(3), respectively.
“In two out of three matches our doubles teams improved significantly,” Sachire said. “It’s all about how you approach it mentally, and our guys worked hard to give us the edge heading into singles play.”
The Irish rolled over the Gators (5-5) on Sunday morning. Pecor and Hagar did not complete their match because the teams of Andrews and Lawson and senior Ryan Bandy and sophomore Eric Schnurrenberger already secured the team doubles point for Notre Dame.
In singles play, Andrews, Bandy and sophomore Quinton Monaghan swept past their Florida opponents in the first, third and second flights, respectively. All three matches were won in straight sets.
“The biggest thing we emphasized heading into the tournament was being competitive in all nine slots,” Sachire said. “We know that we are not always going to win all of our matches, we are just trying to put ourselves in a situation to win from the top down and we did that this weekend.”
Against Mississippi State, the Irish lost their only doubles point of the weekend, forcing them to attempt to come from behind in singles play. Bandy, Hagar, Schnurrenberger and Andrews quickly overcame the deficit and secured the 4-1 Notre Dame victory.
Notre Dame will take today off and resume practice Wednesday as they prepare to face Ohio State and Ball State back at their home Eck Tennis Pavilion this upcoming weekend.
“Our consistency has to be there as we progress through the schedule. We are really emphasizing an attack mentality both at an individual and team level. Everyone has something to improve on,” Sachire said.
The Irish hit the court Saturday against Ohio State at 12 p.m. and against Ball State at 7 p.m. at the Eck Tennis Pavilion.